THEAUSSIEWORD.COM catches up with Melbourne power pop act Midnight Drags.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
My earliest memories of falling in love with music are when I was around 6 or 7 years of age discovering my parents vinyl collection.. they were big pop music fans and I used to spend hours & hours listening to stuff like Men At Work, The Beatles, ABBA, Billy Joel, The Fureys, Willy Nelson, Carole King & Meatloaf standing on my tip toes turning albums over (the record player was quite high!). I was particularly obsessed with one 45 single: Little Red Riding Hood by Sam The Sham & The Pharaoes, me and my big sis and cousins would play it over and over running circles around the couch.. I think we were equal parts exhilarated and scared shitless of the howling he does throughout the song..
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
I’m motivated to keep growing and pushing as a writer when I hear other great music.. It’s always inspiring to hear what other talented musicians are creating. I’m constantly influenced by new and exciting music.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?
Well the cool thing is that I’ve already accomplished some of my biggest goals ie: setting up my own studio and getting to work with other crazy talented people.. Releasing my own music that i’m super proud of (insert plug: Long Way Back Down by Lucas James & the upcoming Bad Business by Midnight Drags). So looking to the future I just want to be able to continue to do what I’m doing..
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
No touring plans (yet).. I think I’m just going to focus on getting more of the Midnight Drags stuff out in the coming months and keep writing new music.
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
It’s essentially a love song.. A song about grief, pain and what happens to someone when the person they love gets taken away from them. It was recorded at my studio (Hot Bias Recording Studio) late last year with the greatest band on earth, consisting of : Ash Naylor on guitar (and co-production duties), Bill McDonald on bass & Brett ‘Wolfie’ Wolfenden on drums. Musically, I would describe the single “Ronnie’ as gritty power-pop with the rest of the album as floating between straight rock, hard rock, pop-rock, with a touch of glam rock in there too! It’s pretty rock 🙂
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?
Often it’s just noodling around on the guitar or jamming over drum loops that gets the juices flowing. Once a musical idea hits, I work pretty fast.. I’ll usually hash out a chord progression and a melody in the first 5 or 10 minutes. Then I start looking for inspiration for the lyrics to fit my melodic ideas. Sometimes I’ll look in my notebook where I have a handful of lyrical ideas I can work off and other times I’ll come up with a story idea on the spot. I don’t know what gets me writing as I never force it. It’s the unreliable muse.. I’ll go months and months without writing, then I’ll have crazy, prolific periods where I’ll write everyday for a few weeks.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I think in every song I write there is a little bit of my story intertwined throughout. Sometimes I keep things intentionally vague. For example I wrote a song called ‘Freddie Steals A Twenty’.. So, now my mum can’t find out that it was me who stole her $20 when I was 14.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Don’t ask me!! 🙂 (But I’ll give it a crack).. I think success is doing what you love and being happy. I don’t equate success to dollars or followers or hits, those are all nice but to me a person is truly successful when they are happy and at peace with what they do.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Probably opening my own recording studio (Hot Bias Recording Studio). I’ve always had little home set-ups but the day I finally moved into my own proper space was a ‘pinch myself’ moment.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
Producers like Shawn Everett and Paul Epworth are but a couple of people who inspire me, Kevin Parker is amazing and I’m a big Josh Homme fan too.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
As a matter of fact yes, I’m currently working with (actor) Stephen Curry on a comedy/music album! It’s going to be a bunch of silly yet very musical songs and skits that we hope to put out next year. People don’t realise that aside from being a funny bugger, Stephen is actually a very talented musician.. We played in a band together many (many) years ago.
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?
Hopefully doing the same things.. Writing music, working with other artists and bands and I would love to be writing/co-writing music with more varied artists.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
Off the top of my head: The Teskey Brothers, Skyhooks, You Am I, Even, Frente, AC-DC, Paddy Come Home, The Bamboos, Peking Duk, The Chats, The Drones, The Living End, Nai Palm, Speed Mullet .. I could go on.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I love the way that social media and new platforms have given new artists a way to get heard.. I’m one of them! If you’re an artist from a small town with no live music scene it’s really cool to know that you can still be heard and seen on social media. The industry has changed so much and it really is possible to have a career as an artist without being signed to a label at all. Although, you do need to be tenacious with good nouse (and hopefully hella talent) but it can be done for sure.
How will you continue appealing to the international market?
Good question.. But to be honest it’s not something I think about! (terrible answer I know)
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
On the songwriting front, I would love to write with Jason Isbell, Kevin Parker, Mark Ronson.. In a playing/jamming capacity I want to play clean tight guitar with Corey Wong and funk it up.
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Keep being yourself, don’t give up and work hard!
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?
If you’re a fan of mine then well done.. You’ve got bloody good taste and I love you mum!
Any last words?